Overview

While the current mass migration of Muslims to Europe (coming under the auspices of refugee status) is claiming today’s news headlines – the fact is that Islam has been part of Europe since its first century. But to understand today’s environment, one must go back 50 years and view migration and Muslim population growth in Europe since WWII. At this time, Muslims are still tiny minorities in countries such as Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands – but demographic trends (i.e. fertility rates) have led some to conclude there will be a Muslim majority in some European nations by 2050. The current spate of migration has accelerated this historic shift.

Many Central European  nations are already Muslim-majority. Examples include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, parts of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as some Russian regions in Northern Caucasus and the Volga region. The communities consist predominantly of indigenous Europeans of the Muslim faith whose religious tradition dates back several hundred years. The transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also are Muslim majority.

Al Andalus  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Europe

 

A manuscript page of the Qur’an in the script developed in al-Andalus, 12th century.

 

The Moors request permission from James I of Aragon, Spain, 13th century

Muslim forays into Europe began shortly after the religion’s inception, with a short lived invasion of Byzantine Sicily by a small Arab and Berber force that landed in 652. Islam gained its first genuine foothold in continental Europe from 711 onward, with the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The Arabs renamed the land Al-Andalus, which expanded to include what is now Portugal and Spain except for the northern highlands of Asturias, Cantabria, Basque country, Navarra and few other places protected by mountain chains from southward invasions.

Al-Andalus has been estimated to have had a Muslim majority by the 10th century after most of the local population willingly converted to Islam. This coincided with the La Convivencia period of the Iberian Peninsula as well as the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Pelayo of Asturias began the Christian counter-offensive known as the Reconquista after the Battle of Covadonga in 722. Slowly, the Christian forces began a re-conquest of the fractured taifa kingdoms of al-Andalus. By 1236, practically all that remained of Muslim Spain was the southern province of Granada.

In the 8th century, Muslim forces pushed beyond Spain into Aquitaine, in southern France, but suffered a temporary setback when defeated by Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine, at the Battle of Toulouse (721). In 725 Muslim forces captured Autun in France. The town would be the easternmost point of expansion of Umayyad forces into Europe; just seven years later in 732, the Umayyads would be forced to begin their withdrawal to al-Andalus after facing defeat at the Battle of Tours by Frankish King Charles Martel. From 719 to 759, Septimania was one of the five administrative areas of al-Andalus. The last Muslim forces were driven from France in 759, but maintained a presence, especially in Fraxinet all the way into Switzerland until the 10th century. At the same time, Muslim forces managed to capture Sicily and portions of southern Italy, and even sacked the Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome in 846 and later sacked Pisa in 1004.

Sicily

 

Muslim musicians at the court of the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, 12th century

Sicily was gradually conquered by the Arabs and Berbers from 827 onward, and the Emirate of Sicily was established in 965. They held onto the region until their expulsion by the Normansin 1072.

The local population conquered by the Muslims were Romanized Sicilians (speaking a Latin language) in western Sicily and partially Greek speaking Christians, mainly in the eastern half of the island, but there were also a significant number of Jews. The Christians belonged to the Eastern Rite. Until 1054 the Latin and Greek Churches were in communion. These conquered people were afforded a limited freedom of religion under the Muslims as dhimmi, but were subject to some restrictions. The dhimmi were also required to pay the jizya, or poll tax, and the kharaj or land tax, but were exempt from the tax that Muslims had to pay (Zakaat). Under Arab rule, there were different categories of Jizya payers, but their common denominator was the payment of the Jizya as a mark of subjection to Muslim rule in exchange for protection against foreign and internal aggression. The conquered population could avoid this subservient status by converting to Islam. Whether by honest religious conviction or societal compulsion large numbers of native Sicilians converted to Islam. However, even after 100 years of Islamic rule, numerous Greek speaking Christian communities prospered, especially in north-eastern Sicily, as dhimmi. This was largely a result of the Jizya system which allowed co-existence. This co-existence with the conquered population fell apart after the reconquest of Sicily, particularly following the death of King William II of Sicily in 1189.

Cultural impact and Christian interaction

 

“Araz” coat of arms of Polish Tatar nobility. Tatar coats of arms often included motifs related to Islam.

 

Mosque of Rome, in Rome, the largest in the EU

 

The East London Mosque was one of the first in Britain to be allowed to use loudspeakers to broadcast the adhan.

The Christian reconquests of the Iberian peninsula and southern Italy helped to reintroduce ideas and concepts lost to the Western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in A.D. 476.

Arab speaking Christian scholars saved influential pre-Christian texts and this coupled with the introduction of aspects of medieval Islamic culture

Muslim rule endured in the Emirate of Granada, from 1238 as a vassal state of the Christian Kingdom of Castile, until the completion of La Reconquista in 1492. The Moriscos (Moorish in Spanish) were finally expelled from Spain between 1609 (Castile) and 1614 (rest of Spain), by Philip III during the Spanish Inquisition.

Throughout the 16th to 19th centuries, the Barbary States sent Barbary pirates to raid nearby parts of Europe in order to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in the Arab World throughout the Renaissance period. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th centuries, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from the crews of captured vessels and from coastal villages in Spain and Portugal, and from farther places like Italy, France or England, the Netherlands, Ireland, the Azores Islands, and even Iceland.

For a long time, until the early 18th century, the Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. The Crimean Tatars frequently mounted raids into the Danubian principalities, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia to enslave people whom they could capture.

 

The Great Mosque of Paris, built after World War I.

Hungary

The Böszörmény Muslims formed an early community of Muslims in Hungary. Their biggest settlement was near the town of present-day Orosháza in the central part of the Hungarian Kingdom. At that time this settlement entirely populated by Muslims was probably one of the biggest settlements of the Kingdom. This and several other Muslim settlements were all destroyed and their inhabitants massacred during the 1241 Mongol invasion of Hungary.

Russia and Ukraine

 

Log pod Mangartom Mosque was the only mosque ever built in Slovenia, in the town of Log pod Mangartom, during World War I.

In the mid 7th century AD, following the Muslim conquest of Persia, it penetrated into areas that would later become part of Russia. There are accounts of the trade connections between the Muslims and the Rus, apparently people from Baltic region who made their way towards the Black Sea through Central Russia. On his way to Volga Bulgaria, Ibn Fadlan brought detailed reports of the Rus, claiming that some had converted to Islam. “They are very fond of pork and many of them who have assumed the path of Islam miss it very much.” The Rus also relished their nabidh, a fermented drink Ibn Fadlan often mentioned as part of their daily fare.

 

The Ottoman campaign for territorial expansion in Europe in 1566, Crimean Tatars as vanguard.

 
 

The Mongols began their conquest of Rus’, Volga Bulgaria, and the Cuman-Kipchak Confederation (present day Russia and Ukraine) in the 13th century. After the Mongol empire split, the eastern European section became known as the Golden Horde. Despite the fact that they were not Muslim at the time, the western Mongols adopted Islam as their religion in the early 14th century under Berke Khan, and later Uzbeg Khan who established it as the official religion of the state. Much of the mostly Turkic-speaking population of the Horde, as well as the small Mongol aristocracy, were Islamized (if they were not already Muslim, such as the Volga Bulgars) and became known to Russians and Europeans as the Tatars. More than half of the European portion of what is now Russia and Ukraine, were under the suzerainty of Muslim Tatars and Turks from the 13th to 15th centuries. The Crimean Khanate became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire in 1475 and subjugated what remained of the Great Horde by 1502. The Khanate of Kazan was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552.

Belarus and Poland-Lithuania

Lipka Tatar Muslims of Belarus and Poland-Lithuania. The material of their Mosques is wood.

Balkans during the Ottoman Empire

 

The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, awaits the arrival of his Greek Muslim Grand Vizier Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha at Buda, in the year 1529.

 

Medieval Bulgaria particularly the city of Sofia, was the administrative centre of almost all Ottoman possessions in the Balkans also known as Rumelia.[35]

The Ottoman Empire began its expansion into Europe by taking the European portions of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries up until the 1453 capture of Constantinople, establishing Islam as the state religion in the region. The Ottoman Empire continued to stretch northwards, taking Hungary in the 16th century, and reaching as far north as the Podolia in the mid-17th century (Peace of Buczacz), by which time most of the Balkans was under Ottoman control. Ottoman expansion in Europe ended with their defeat in the Great Turkish War. In the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699), the Ottoman Empire lost most of its conquests in Central Europe. The Crimean Khanate was later annexed by Russia in 1783. Over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire gradually lost almost all of its European territories, until its collapse in 1922, when the former empire was transformed into the nation of Turkey.

Between 1354 (when the Ottomans crossed into Europe at Gallipoli) and 1526, the Empire had conquered the territory of present-day Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Hungary. The Empire laid siege to Vienna in 1683. The intervention of the Polish King broke the siege, and from then afterwards the Ottomans battled the Habsburg Emperors until 1699, when the Treaty of Karlowitz forced them to surrender Hungary and portions of present-day Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia. From 1699 to 1913, wars and insurrections pushed the Ottoman Empire further back until it reached the current European border of present-day Turkey.

For most of this period, the Ottoman retreats were accompanied by Muslim refugees from these provinces (in almost all cases converts from the previous subject populations), leaving few Muslim inhabitants in Hungary, Croatia, and the Transylvania region of present-day Romania. Bulgaria remained under Ottoman rule until around 1878, and currently its population includes about 131,000 Muslims (2001 Census) (see Pomaks).

 

 

Painting of the bazaar at AthensOttoman Greece, early 19th century

Bosnia was conquered by the Ottomans in 1463, and a large portion of the population converted to Islam in the first 200 years of Ottoman domination. By the time Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia in 1878, the Habsburgs had shed the desire to re-Christianize new provinces. As a result, a sizable Muslim population in Bosnia survived into the 20th century. Albania and the Kosovo area remained under Ottoman rule until 1913. Prior to the Ottoman conquest, the northern Albanians were Roman Catholic and the southern Albanians were Christian Orthodox, but by 1913 the majority were Muslim.

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